According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the ongoing climate crisis is the “greatest threat facing the world’s children and young people.” Students at American International School in Egypt headed to COP27 for a deep dive into climate issues, alongside 35,000 participants, from world leaders to NGO representatives, to fellow students from around the world.
In November 2022, 190 countries came together at the 27th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), held in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. The conference was attended by representatives from 190 countries, with more than 92 heads of state attending. The COP conferences’ objective is for countries to work together for action towards achieving the world’s collective climate goals, as agreed under the Paris Agreement. Adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, the agreement is a legally binding international treaty with the overarching goal of limiting global warming and mitigating its critical impact on humanity.
Together, both campuses of American International School in Egypt (AISE) partnered with the Center for Global Education (CGE) to participate in the week-long #Decarbonize Student Leadership Summit, that ran in parallel to COP27, including attending COP events. Youth from different schools around the world came together to learn about, advocate for, and act on climate issues. During the course of the summit, students learnt through collaborative, hands-on activities such as blog posts, discussion boards, podcast recording, video production, art creation, and live, interactive videoconferences, with activities culminating in whole-school action projects. They developed leadership and global citizenship skills to best serve their homes, schools, and communities. Representing their countries and schools at the actual COP27 summit, also provided opportunities for them to turn their training into real advocacy.
AISE students prepared for this event by researching climate change issues in their home countries and coming together to discuss solutions. One student from each continent was selected to be a representative in the “Blue Zone” and they presented their concerns and ideas to the delegates. All other students spent time networking with think tanks in the “Green Zone.” The COP27 conference is divided into two zones – The Blue Zone, with country and issues-related pavilions, where negotiations are hosted, and The Green Zone, which includes events, exhibitions, workshops and talks to promote dialogue, awareness, education, and commitment on climate action.
Students had the opportunity to attend conference sessions, meet with ministers, ex-presidents, CEOs, UNFCCC and UNESCO members, entrepreneurs, indigenous people from Brazil as well as climate change activists from around the world.
Students had the opportunity to attend conference sessions, meet with ministers, ex-presidents, CEOs, UNFCCC and UNESCO members, entrepreneurs, indigenous people from Brazil as well as climate change activists from around the world. Twice they presented a live stream from the World Art Forum (WAF) booth, connecting with students from around the world. They also participated in a fossil fuel debate with a panel representing sides of the argument. A huge highlight for the students was when #Decarbonize was asked to present a Q&A panel at “Extreme Hangout,” an event co-located with the New York Times, which delivers inspiring, empowering conversations on climate action, panel discussions from opinion leaders in their field, live streamed to an audience of millions across the world. Students felt extremely privileged to have been a part of COP27 and to have had the opportunity to share the voice of the future with all these delegates.
“Climate advocates – led by the moral voice of young people -- have kept the agenda moving through the darkest of days. They must be protected. To all of them, I say we share your frustration. But we need you now more than ever…together, let’s not relent in the fight for climate justice and climate ambition.”
~ António Guterres, UN Secretary General, Closing Remarks, COP27